By Tajudeen Sowole
Nkechi and Nduka Abii are mother and son artists whose joint solo art exhibition titled Genes Apart opened few days ago at VCP Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
While the work of Nkechi exudes the traditional form in painting, mixed media and relief sculpture, Nduka takes imagery into the future in his renditions on canvas as well as digital painting.
The exhibition, for Nkechi, a 1983 graduate of Fine Art, University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka, is the first of many efforts ahead of recovering her first profession after several decades. She said “I have been a fashion designer immediately after graduating, but now picking art again”.
Nduka, who is currently a student of animation art at Colombus College of Art and Design, Ohio, U.S., is, apparently looking forward to a career in art, either at home or in the Diaspora.
In works such as Scavengers and Omiebele,
Nkechi attempts to recover her skills in draughtsmanship as her themes rove over leadership and the spirituality that links man and life after death.
Works from Nkechi and Nduka’s joint exhibition
Some of the works also show that she has not completely lost her sculptural skills to the over two decades of break from art. For example, Nkechi brings a life size bust into a tragic theme, paying Tribute to Aluu 4, the University of Port Harcourt students lynched to death over an alleged stealing. The artist was touched by the barbaric act: “When I see the video of four young students who got burnt at Alu, words fail me… but my painting helps me grieve”.
With matured strokes, Nduka extracts from the runway, in a three piece monochromatic of ladies titled Black Widows, which he likens to a female spider of the same name. As the artist has his eyes focused on the future, having designed CD covers of music for quite some Nigerian artists, Uduka also uses his canvas to project the ambition of young people on the streets of Lagos. This much he captures in Lofty, a lad in hands-akimbo posture silhouetted on the rough side of streets. The kid, Nduka explains “feels like taking on the world now or later”.
And stressing the increasing role of technology in imagery, Nduka displayed his skill in painting using the digital format he tagged Pollue Speed Painting.
Nkechi’s art content, largely, is based on her emotive response to issues within her immediate environment. “I am easily affected by things that happen around me and feel deeply about people, situations and opportunities, however I have found that the best way of dealing with frustrating experiences that get thrown at me daily is not by speaking about them but by painting!”
For digital boy, Nduka, he would maintain his respect for the traditional painting format. He disagreed that he is a “modernist with strengths” just the digital art. “That is not entirely true. My origins are just as traditional as others. I started with a pencil and then a paint brush. I remember doing the wall murals in my secondary school as my parting gift, soon after I won the school the first position in the Chemical and Allied Company (CAP), Plc’s Dulux Art Competition for secondary schools. That was a long time ago. A lot has changed and yet, not much has changed.”
Nduka could not recall when exactly he started painting, “but I know that there has been a quick evolution from my mural days to new and exciting artistic expressions.” He noted that each of his projects “is a journey and consists of multiple works, often in a range of different media, grouped around specific themes and meanings.”